Independent experts set out recommendations to improve child health results

Published on Thursday, 26 July 2012 11:43
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

The Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum has today published its proposals on how health-related care for children and young people can be improved.

The independent Forum, which was asked by the Secretary of State to help develop a new strategy for improving care for children and young people, identified several themes that it says are key to making the improvements needed:

  • putting children, young people and their families at the heart of what happens
  • acting early and intervening at the right time
  • integration and partnership
  • safe and sustainable services
  • workforce, education and training
  • knowledge and evidence
  • leadership, accountability and assurance
  • incentives

The Forum recommends a number of new outcomes measures and the strengthening of existing indicators and makes specific recommendations for different organisations within the health and care system to ensure the improvements are achieved.

Forum joint chair Christine Lenehan, Director at the Council for Disabled Children, said:

"The Forum is clear that the implementation of these recommendations is key to improving health outcomes for children and young people, which was the ambition of the Secretary of State when he established us to do this work.

"This Report needs to form the basis of a wider children and young people's health outcomes strategy, which needs to be owned by all organisations in the health system and beyond who have a responsibility for improving the health and wellbeing for this group."

The Forum's starting point for identifying what outcomes matter most for children and young people were the existing NHS and Public Health Outcomes Frameworks.

The Forum recommends four new outcome indicators for inclusion within the NHS Outcomes Framework. These are:

  • time from first NHS presentation to diagnosis or start of treatment
  • integrated care – developing a new composite measure
  • effective transition from children's to adult services
  • age-appropriate services, with particular reference to teenagers

The Forum also makes recommendations about strengthening patient experience measures and says the Department of Health and the NHS Commissioning Board should incorporate the views of children and young people into existing national patient surveys in all care settings.

Within the Public Health Outcomes Framework, the Forum recommends a total of 9 new indicators across each of the domains, including measuring the proportion of mothers with mental health problems, including postnatal depression.

The Forum makes a large number of recommendations on how the health and care system can help deliver the necessary improvements. These include:

with immediate effect, all data about children and young people should be presented in 5-year age bands through childhood and the teenage years – this will allow relevant international comparisons as well as national or local comparisons

the revised NHS Constitution to be applicable to all children, young people and their families the use of the NHS number as the unique identifier, bringing together health, education, social care and criminal justice records for children and young people.

Source: ©DH

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